During my 2nd week into summer “vacation” I met with nine other secondary science teachers from my district. We set forth on a week-long curriculum design journey that involved the new Michigan Science Standards (basically NGSS).
I always feel a need to start the year off with an activity that ties in observations and conclusions but I also know that most students have had that in science classes since the early grades. Is there a way to revisit an old topic with a new or more challenging bent?
This exercise is intended as an ice-breaker for a first or second class meeting. It also serves as an introduction to physical & chemical properties and application of the macro/micro/symbolic representations of chemical phenomena. Finally, it also provides a framework to mention many of the topics to be covered in a general chem first semester course.
The first day of school for me has always been daunting for my new students (in AP chemistry, where I know the kids, it’s so much easier). I want my students to know the following: -Who is this tiny person who looks like a teenager (that’d be ME, folks)? Where did she come from and why is she teaching us? -What does chemistry look like?
I had a tough week. I had a front row seat in which I witnessed someone almost lose their life. I also almost accidently deleted both of my class websites just days before the kids walk in as we are starting a one to one lap top program. Here is the amazing part to all this...I get something that we all get as teachers every year...a second chance.
This summer I had the opportunity to attend my first Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) in Greeley, Colorado. When I first expressed interest in this conference more than one fellow high school educator told me some version of, “Don’t bother with that. It’s a bunch of stuff for college professors, it won’t be of use to you.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. Yes, much of the programming is directed at a higher-education audience, but many of the workshops and symposia have something to offer for precollege educators and there is a very vibrant and continually growing strand of high-school specific programing.
I display and live a class motto in order to give a framework to the scientific intent of my community of learners. My particular motto is a quote from Freeman Dyson: "Science is an objective struggle between the precision of tools and the ambiguities of nature."
BCCE 2016 was an amazing couple of days. It is kind of like drinking from a fire hose. Here were some high points that you might find helpful. As one participant was heard saying, "It is kind of like rocket fuel for the school year."